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Cutting Off Doors for New Flooring

Doors, Doors, Floors, Floors, Windows & Doors July 30, 2010 Sonia

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By Larry Walton


Cutting Off Doors to Clear for your New Flooring.



At Oregon Carpenters we hang hundreds of doors a year, so learning how to set them up for proper floor clearance is important. However, there are times when cutting off doors cannot be avoided especially on home-improvement projects where there has been a change in flooring.

Determining how much to cut off can be a problem. If in doubt, sneak up on it. In other words, cut off a little, try it and cut off a little more if necessary.

If the door is dragging on carpet, it works pretty well to put a No. 2 pencil on the carpet and mark the door. The radius of the pencil usually provides adequate clearance. Swing the door over the full arc of its travel and mark it where it drags heaviest on the carpet.

If you are on a new hard surface, like tile, wood or vinyl, and you can’t get the door on the hinges because it is too high on the new flooring, put the door as close as possible to position and measure how much it would need to drop to get the hinge plates to line up, or to get the hinge plate to settle into the hinge-plate mortise. Adjust this measurement to take off an additional 1/4 inch for clearance.

Here are the steps I take to cut off a door so it has clearance to swing.

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One of the best ways to make sure you are cutting off the bottom and not the top of a door is to measure to the door hardware location, which should be about 36 inches from the bottom.

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Lay a pencil on the carpet to mark the cut-off elevation on the door face.

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Use your utility knife and combo square to score the door across the face.



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Adjust your combination square to the amount you want to remove from the door bottom.


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Protect the door surface with masking tape. This helps prevent the saw base from leaving marks on the door.

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Extend the scoring marks down the door edges. This prevents tear-out during cutting.


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Make the cut, keeping the kerf about 1/16 inch outside the scoring mark. Hold onto the off-fall as the saw exits the door.

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Set the depth of cut so the blade extends about 3/8 inch beyond the door thickness.


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Use a sanding block to shape a slight chamfer all the way around the bottom of the door.


Approach with Caution

Don’t jump too quickly onto the task of cutting off exterior doors. If the door is dragging on the threshold, make sure there is not another issue at play, such as loose hinge screws or out-of-place threshold parts. If the door is not clearing interior flooring, the better fix is often to raise the entire door jamb and threshold. Cutting off the door without raising the threshold may result in an improper seal. If you decide to cut off an exterior door, make sure you have a plan for sealing the bottom of the door against the threshold when the door is closed.


Shop-Made Sanding Block

To chamfer the cut edge of the door, make a sanding block by cutting a 2-by-3/4-inch strip of wood 1/2 inch shorter than the diameter of the peel-and-stick sanding paper for your random orbit sander. The length of the sanding block bridges over dips in the saw cut and gives the resulting chamfer a much straighter appearance than the saw cut.


Door Cut-Off Quick Tips

•  Make sure you are cutting the bottom and not the top of the door.

•  Score the door to prevent tear-out from the saw blade.

•  Protect the door surface to avoid scratches from the saw base.

•  Chamfer the door bottom to hide bobbles in the cut and to prevent snagging and chipping in daily use.